Real estate experts say Hurricane Irma’s winds threaten 8.5 million homes and businesses in Florida.
A report from data analysis firm CoreLogic says storm surges — floodwaters driven by high winds and low pressure — may also endanger 3.5 million commercial and residential properties.
Standard & Poor’s analysts say they are still adding up the costs of Hurricane Harvey, but Irma seems likely to cost even more. Researchers at Barclays Bank say hurricane claims costs might rise high enough to wipe out a year of earnings for certain insurance companies.
Deadly Hurricane Irma is also hurting transportation companies, including airlines, which have canceled 4,600 flights to and from airports in the Caribbean and Florida, according to FlightAware.com. Bad weather is forcing Miami’s airport to stop operating Friday and Orlando’s facility to end flights on Saturday. Together, these major airports handle about 2,000 flights on normal days.
Florida accounts for about 5 percent of the U.S. GDP and 6 percent of U.S. jobs. PNC Bank chief economist Gus Faucher says U.S. economic growth may briefly slow in the third quarter because of Harvey and Irma, but he thinks it will bounce back late this year and early next year. Faucher says insurance and government aid will fund rebuilding efforts in the wake of the storms, and that will add to economic activity and hiring.
Commonwealth Financial Network’s Brad McMillan says previous major storms like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy caused huge local problems but did not change the national economy in a “fundamental” way. He says the recovery in this case may take “longer than usual.”